Category: Indian Vegetables&Some

Zucchini Ponganalu

Next year I have to remember how many zucchinis will appear in May, when I plant in March. For now, zucchini will have a culinary journey of its lifetime in my kitchen.

The following is a zucchini experiment, inspired by traditional ponganala recipe of South India.

Zucchini Ponganalu
Zucchini Ponganam ~ for Meal Yesterday

Zucchini Ponganalu
(for 3 to 4 batches)

Ingredients:
3 cups, dosa batter
1 cup, grated yellow zucchini
1/2 cup, finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons, roasted cashew pieces
1 tablespoon, finely chopped green chilli
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon each – cumin and turmeric
2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
To prepare ponganalu: a well-seasoned ponganalu pan

Method:
In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and toast cumin to fragrance. Add and saute onion, yellow zucchini and green chilli for about five minutes. When they start to get crisp, add cashew pieces, turmeric, salt and cilantro leaves. Stir-fry few seconds and turn off the heat.

Add the skillet contents to dosa batter. Mix well. This is now zucchini ponganala batter.

Heat a ponganala(paniyaram) pan on medium heat. Add spoonful of ponganala batter in each impression. Cook few minutes on each side to golden brown like shown here in photos.

Serve zucchini ponganalu warm with chutney, honey or sambar. They make a tasty snack or filling mini meal.

Cubed Zucchini in Cashew Sauce

Because zucchini is being so generous in my garden, I decided to return the favor and treat it royally. I picked two zucchinis. Diced them into bite-sized cubes and added them to rich cashew sauce. Zucchini looked like it was in a state of Zen, and that made us happy. This is a good zucchini recipe for those of you who would like to avoid tomatoes but still like to indulge in sauces.

Yellow Zucchini and Cashews

Cubed Zucchini in Cashew Sauce

Ingredients:
2 young and tender, yellow zucchini, cubed to bite-sized pieces
1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup crowder peas fresh or frozen (or any beans you prefer) for protein
1 tablespoon, peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon each – turmeric, salt and chilli powder (or to taste)

For cashew sauce:
2 tablespoons, roasted, unsalted cashew pieces
1 teaspoon each – coriander seeds and cumin seeds
4 cloves and half inch piece of cinnamon
1/2 x 1/2 inch piece ginger
Blend the above ingredients to smooth paste in a blender or mortar.

Method:
In a saucepan or skillet, heat oil.
Do the tadka (toast a pinch each cumin and mustard seeds).
Add onion and saute to soft.
Add zucchini and the peas.
Add the cashew paste and also turmeric, salt and chilli powder. Add about half cup water. Mix well.
Cover and cook for about ten minutes. Do not over-cook. Zucchini should remain crisp and tender.
Serve as a side vegetable for chapati or rice or with upma or dosa.

Yellow Zucchini in Cashew Sauce with Dosa
Yellow Zucchini in Cashew Sauce with Dosa ~ Meal on the Weekend

Garden to Table ~ Green Beans and Green Peas Poriyal

Green beans and green peas combination is a south-Indian marriage made in garden heaven. The gentle sweetness of plump peas pairs well with herbal flavor of vibrant green beans. Traditional fresh coconut – chilli seasoning at the end ties up everything beautifully, and beckons us to bless the lovely bean-pea poriyal couple. So common at home and in restaurant buffets, yet surprisingly delightful when prepared with fresh ingredients. It’s no wonder, green beans-green peas combination remains a beloved classic in Indian cookery.

Fresh Green Beans and Green Peas

Green Beans with Green Peas
(for two to four, for four to two meals)

Ingredients:
Fresh and young green beans, about a pound
Freshly shelled green peas, about 2 cups
Red onion or shallot, 1 medium-sized one
Freshly grated coconut, about 2 tablespoons
Indian or Thai variety green chillies – 5
Turmeric and salt, about 1/2 teaspoon each or to taste
For curry leaf tadka: 1 sprig fresh curry leaves, pinch each cumin and mustard seeds
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Method:
1. Trim the ends and cut green beans to half-inch length pieces. Finely chop onion.

2. Take coconut and green chilli in a mixer. Add a pinch of salt and blend the ingredients to fine without adding water.

3. In a wide skillet, heat peanut oil. When oil is hot, add and toast curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds to fragrance. Add onion and saute to soft brown. Add green beans and green peas. Mix. Cover the skillet and cook the beans, until they are soft but still have some crunch left. Just before turning off the heat, sprinkle coconut-green chilli paste, turmeric and salt. Combine well. Saute five more minutes and remove the skillet from heat.

4. Serve green beans-green peas poriyal warm with rice and dal or with chapati. Makes a tasty topping on dosas, pesarattus and pasta.

Green Beans ~ Green Peas Poriyal
From Garden to Table ~ Green Beans and Green Peas Poriyal

Zucchini Pesarattu

This is my first time preparing zucchini pesarattu and I have to say this first try has turned out to be the best garden to table zucchini experiment. The recipe is easy. Pick tender zucchini. Grate and add it to pesarattu batter. Zucchini pesarattu base is power-packed moong sprouts. To stabilize the moong batter, I added little bit besan flour. Grated carrot, onion and fresh ginger made good companions to tender zucchini. Simple and sublime, these delicious pesarattus evoked a longing for a summer supper beneath a large and shady mango tree.

Zucchini, Carrot and Moong Sprouts
Grated Yellow Zucchini, Carrot and Moong Sprouts

Zucchini Pesarattu
(for 10-12 pesarattus)

Ingredients:
1 fresh and firm, medium-sized zucchini
1 medium-sized carrot
1 small red onion or shallot
4 Indian or Thai green chillies
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
4 cups sprouted moong beans
1/4 cup besan (gram flour)

Method:

Grate zucchini and carrot. Finely chop onion, chillies and ginger.

In a blender or food processor, take sprouted moong beans. Add green chillies, ginger and salt. Blend the ingredients to fairly fine consistency. Add about half cup of water for easy blending.

Take the pesarattu batter in a bowl. Add besan flour, onion and grated zucchini and carrot. Mix well.

Heat a tava or griddle. Pour a ladle full of batter onto the tava. Gently spread into a small circle. On medium heat, cook both sides to golden. They do not require oil or ghee. But drizzle some if you wish.

Serve warm. Good with chutney or raita on the side.

Zucchini Pesarattu with Coconut Chutney
Zucchini Pesarattu with Coconut Chutney ~ for Meal Yesterday

Avocado~Methi Paratha

When culinary comfort is needed, it has become a habit to go into the kitchen to make parathas. Parathas magically transform dull looking meal options into a centerpiece meal, perfect for weekday eating but also special enough for that potluck party. Simply combine wheat flour with a favorite ingredient, rollout and cook, you have created something rich and tasty. For today, it was luxurious avocado and ultra-soulful fresh methi, gently kneaded into durum wheat flour and made into soft and satisfying parathas.

Avocado

Avocado-Methi Parathas
(for 8 medium-sized parathas)

Ingredients:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado cut, seed removed and ripe flesh smoothly mashed
1 cup, finely chopped fresh methi leaves and tender stems

Method:
In a bowl, sieve wheat flour with salt. Add avocado and methi. Mix well and gently knead. Add couple of teaspoons of water if necessary to make firm dough. Keep covered for at least 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal sized pieces and shape them into smooth rounds. On a wooden board or on a clean countertop, take a paratha dough piece, dust with flour and roll into 6″ diameter circle with a rolling pin.

Place a tava or griddle on stove-top and heat. When the tava is hot, place the paratha and cook on medium-heat to golden brown on both sides.

Serve hot with some curry or yogurt or pickle.

Avocado Methi Paratha with Methi Chole
Avocado Methi Paratha with Methi Chole ~ For Meal Yesterday

Methi Turai Dal (Menthi Beerakaaya Pappu)

Methi in my garden is now fully grown. Thanks to the frequent rains and pleasant weather we had for the past few weeks. I dug out few plants and plucked the fresh leaves and tender stems to prepare methi dal for today’s meal. I also added turai, because I thought mildly sweet turai would complement methi’s herbal flavor. Individually also they are best friends with toor dal. Together, methi and turai made an excellent team-toor dal day.

Methi is easy to grow in garden beds or in small containers, tastes good and known to balance blood sugar levels. If you have never tried growing methi, please do try this season. Go to an Indian grocery and purchase a packet of methi seeds. Soak some in water for a day. Wrap the soaked seeds in a wet muslin (cheese) cloth for a day or two. Seeds start to sprout. Plant the methi sprouts in soil where it gets sunlight. Water once a day. Within a month methi will be ready to harvest for dal, curry or roti.

Fresh Methi and Turai

Methi Turai Dal (Menthi Beerakaaya Pappu)
(for 2 or 4, for 4 to 2 meals)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup, toor dal (kandi pappu)
2 cups, fresh methi leaves and pinched tender stems
2 cups, turai pieces (peel the turai ridges and thinly slice)
1 small red onion or shallot. chopped
8 to 10, Indian or Thai green chillies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, tamarind pulp
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Method:
In a pressure cooker, take toor dal. Wash and clean the dal. Add the methi leaves, turai, onion, green chilli, tamarind and turmeric. Add about 2 cups of water. Mix. Close the lid and pressure-cook the dal to soft consistency. Allow the pressure to come down and then remove the lid. Add salt, about half teaspoon or to taste, and mash the cooked ingredients gently with a wood masher or a sturdy whisk.

Season the dal with garlic tadka. For garlic tadka, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a medium-sized pot. When oil is hot, add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 8 curry leaves, and a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds. Saute the ingredients to fragrance. Add the methi-turai dal to this garlic tadka. Mix well and serve the methi-turai dal with rice or roti.

Methi Turai Dal with Rice
Methi-Turai Dal and Turai Curry with Rice ~ For Meal Today and
for Suma’s Delicious Dals From India Event

Celebrating Spring: Potato Sambar

You know, when something is good, it becomes a classic. This potato sambar, for example. I remember two generations before me, my mother and grandmother, enjoying this delicious and hearty dish. Idly and potato sambar – “more amma…” I would always ask for more when I was a child. Who knew digging into the earth for potatoes would unearth all these precious memory jewels as well! Fresh produce patriotism plus the nostalgia – that’s what this potato sambar is for me now.

I realize that potatoes are not for everyone in this calorie-conscious atmosphere. But baby and new crop potatoes are truly wonderful, and I do think they are worth that extra mile walk.

Toor Dal Mash, Pearl Onions, Tomato and Red Potatoes for Potato Sambar
Toor Dal Mash, Pearl Onions, Tomato and Red Potatoes for Potato Sambar

Potato Sambar
(for 2 or 4, for 4 to 2 meals)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup, Toor dal
2 medium sized, fresh potatoes. Cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds (no dice)
10 pearl onions, peel the skin and cut off the ends
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
Half lime-sized tamarind
1 tablespoon, sambar powder
1/4 teaspoon each, red chilli powder and turmeric powder
1 teaspoon, salt or to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

For Curry Leaf Tadka:
2 teaspoons, peanut oil
One sprig of fresh curry leaves, 6 small dry red chilli pieces, 1/4 teaspoon each – mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and hing

Method:
Toor dal: In a heavy cooking pot or pressure cooker, take toor dal. Wash and clean the dal. Add two cups of water, quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Mix, cover and cook until the dal is soft and then mash it to smooth paste. Keep it aside.

Tamarind: Soak half lime-sized ball of tamarind in one cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze it out between your fingers to extract the juice and discard the pith and seeds.

Prepare the Sambar: In a big pot, heat to medium and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek, hing and curry leaves and saute for 2 minutes. Add the onion and brown lightly. Add the potatoes and tomatoes. Cook, partially covered until potatoes are fork-tender.

Add the tamarind extract, mashed toor dal that was kept aside to the vegetables. Stir in sambar powder, red chilli powder and salt. Add a cup of water. Allow this to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and remove from heat.

Serve potato sambar warm with rice, idlies or vada. Or fill a cup with sambar and sip with a spoon. However you serve, potato sambar makes a nutritious and satisfying meal.

Potato Sambar and Rava Idly
Potato Sambar and Rava Idly ~ A Meal, Last Weekend

Potatoes with Rosemary and Cumin

Delicate skin, texture so precious, you just want to hold them like babies.

Their fragrance is legendary, and continents were discovered in search of their source.

Create a dish that would express your culinary affection. It has to be simple in preparation and sensational in taste.

Yes, my dear Mahanandi!

New Potatoes with Rosemary and Cumin
(for two, for one meal)

Freshly Harvested Red Potatoes
Pick 12 freshly harvested (new crop or baby) potatoes. Gently rub and wash to reveal that pale ruby red skin.

Freshly Harvested Potatoes
Place the potatoes in a steamer. Add water to the pot and place the steamer in pot. Cover and steam-cook the potatoes to fork-tender.

Freshly Harvested Potatoes
In a cast iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of ghee. Add and toast quarter teaspoon cumin seeds and a tablespoon fresh rosemary to fragrance. Add the steam-cooked potatoes (cut into smaller pieces, as needed). Gently toss and saute for five minutes. Sprinkle salt and black pepper to taste. Serve Warm.

Spring Harvest : New Potatoes for Potato Upma

Red potatoes I planted last winter are taking up quite a bit of precious space with their healthy blooms this spring. I read that flowering means potatoes can be harvested. I like the potatoes when they are in baby, immature stage, when the skin is still very delicate and they have not had as much time to convert their sugar into starch. I didn’t want the potatoes to fully develop into big mature ones with thick skin. So, to recover some planting space and to harvest some tender potatoes, yesterday I removed the potato plants and dug up the new potatoes. It was like an easy treasure hunt to unearth these baby ruby beauties. I got about 16 potatoes, from two plants. Not bad, considering that I didn’t do anything extra, like adding fertilizer, except watering the plants occasionally.

16 potatoes and 3 recipes – one recipe each for three days. That is the menu this week. First recipe on the list, a classic from childhood and my husband Vijay’s favorite, Potato Upma. Potatoes are cut, sautéed with other vegetables and then steamed with roasted rava in potato upma. For Vijay, upma is not upma unless it has some potatoes and tomatoes in it.

Freshly Harvested Red Potatoes
Spring Harvest: New (Immature), Red Potatoes

Potato Upma
(for two or four, for two to one meal)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon, peanut oil
From Masala dabba: 1/4 teaspoon each, urad dal, cumin and mustard seeds
1 sprig, fresh curry leaves,
1 onion, finely chopped, about a cup
4 green chillies (Indian or Thai variety), finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped, about half cup
2 potatoes, finely cubed, about a cup
Roasted cashews or peanuts, about quarter cup
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 and 1/2 cups, Roasted Upma Rava (available at Indian grocery)
3 cups water

Method:
In a large skillet, heat peanut oil over medium heat. Add urad dal, cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Toast the ingredients to fragrance. Add the onion and chillies, stir-fry until the onion softens, about five minutes. Add tomatoes and potatoes. Cook, stirring often for another five minutes. Add water to the skillet. Stir in salt. Raise the heat to medium-high and cover the skillet. When water starts to boil and lifts up the lid, remove the cover and reduce the heat to low. Add roasted rava, stirring constantly with a sturdy ladle so that the rava mixes well with water without any lumps. Sprinkle cashews or peanuts and steamcook, stirring frequently until there is no liquid left on the surface and the rava looks like creamy pudding.

Serve Potato Upma warm with chutney, pickle, podi or sambar.

Potato Upma
Potato Upma with Pappula Podi and Carrots ~ for Meal Today

Red Bell Pepper and Sundried Tomato Chutney

It is a spread on dosas and parathas. A dip for mini idlies. Pongal, rice and upma love to mix and mingle. Sun-dried Tomato chutney. What’s the attraction? Some said, it’s the concentrated goodness of the sun-dried tomatoes, for some it’s the red bell pepper smoky sweetness. While others say it’s a matter of cooking it quickly on very high heat. I think all three contributed to the red hot success of this chutney and popularity in my home.

Sundried Tomatoes

Red Bell Pepper and Sundried Tomato Chutney
(for a week, for two or four)

Ingredients:
12 sun-dried tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon, thick tamarind pulp
1/2 teaspoon, salt or to taste
1 tablespoon, peanut oil

Method:
Chop red bell peppers coarsely to chunky pieces. Include the seeds.

Heat peanut oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red bell pepper pieces. Stirring constantly, sauté to soft, about 15 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to sauté, stirring often for another two minutes. Turn off the heat. Wait for the ingredients to reach room temperature.

Take the roasted red bell pepper and sun-dried tomato pieces in a blender or food processor. Add tamarind pulp and salt. Blend until smooth. Remove to a clean, glass jar or cup. Serve and enjoy the chutney with your favorite savory items.

(Chutney stays fresh up to a week when refrigerated.)

Red Bell Pepper and Sundried Tomato Chutney
Red Bell Pepper and Sundried Tomato Chutney

Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired

Fennel seeds need no introduction to this Bharath Bawarchi but when it comes to fresh fennel, I always wondered how they would taste. Thanks to Jihva Fennel, I found out that fresh fennel has a light licorice flavor which becomes more delicate when cooked.

For my first try, I placed the fresh fennel in a comfortable combination. I stir-fried the fennel with red onion and red bell peppers and seasoned with fennel seeds. The result was a vigorous vegetable medley with pronounced fennel sweetness.

I have to say that it was so easy to fall in love with fresh fennel in this Indian-inspired combination, and I recommend fresh fennel friendship to my fellowship.

Fresh Fennel Bulb

Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
(for four sandwiches)

1 fennel bulb
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 green chilli
1/4 tsp each – turmeric, fennel and cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon, peanut oil

Slice the top off and remove the outer layer of the fennel bulb. With a mandoline or knife, slice the fennel lengthwise into thin strips about two inches long. Finely slice onions, red bell pepper and chilli into thin strips of the same length.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the peanut oil. Add cumin and fennel seeds and toast to fragrance. Add the onion and cook for two to three minutes. Add the fresh fennel, red bell pepper and chilli strips and stir-fry for about five minutes, until the vegetables are tender and start to get brown. Season with salt and turmeric and sprinkle some lemon juice if desired.

Serve warm over grilled or toasted bread or chapati for fennel flavored, filling meal.

Stir-fried fresh fennel with red onions and red bell peppers Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
Fennel Sandwich ~ for Meal Today, and
For JFI~Fennel at Lovely Siri of Siri’s Corner

Pepper Parathas with Red Bell Peppers

Red Bell Pepper Filled with Grated Red Bell Pepper

A real treat for those who like the sweet, peppery taste of red bell peppers – these pepper parathas are fine on their own, but with curry, dal or raita makes a very satisfying farm-style meal.

Pepper Parathas with Red Bell Peppers
(for 10 to 12 parathas)

3 cups chapati flour (whole wheat flour from India)
2 fresh and firm red bell peppers
1 tablespoon kasuri methi
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Bell Peppers: Wash thoroughly and in a plate or a big bowl, grate the bell peppers with a grater. Start from the bottom and when you reach the top most, discard it. Some seeds join the fun and keep them for extra ruchi.

Paratha Dough: In a big bowl, take the chapati flour. Add kasuri methi, cumin and salt. Mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the grated and juicy bell pepper. Combine into the flour with your fingertips, then gradually knead in enough water or yogurt to make soft dough. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for atleast 30 minutes.

Pepper Paratha: Divide the dough into equal sized pieces and shape each piece into a round. On a lightly flour-sprinkled counter, roll out each round into a 5 to 6 inch circle. Keep the rounds that you are not working on covered, to prevent them from drying out. Heat a cast-iron pan. Place the paratha and cook, turning and moving gently with a spatula until golden each side. Brush ghee or peanut oil, if you like, during cooking.

Remove the pepper parathas from the skillet and serve immediately with curry, dal, kurma or raita for a good meal.

Pepper Parathas with Dal Makhani
Pepper Parathas with Dal Makhani for a Dhaba style Meal Today

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